Brendan Gilligan

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Dissenting sisters in Indian rape case say they are Church outcasts

As the Vatican grapples to devise stronger protocols and responses following a historic summit focused on clergy sex abuse of minors, five nuns in India complain of Church repression for their support of a former superior general who was allegedly raped by a bishop.

“The Catholic Church leadership has been treating us as outcasts after we went public against Bishop Franco Mulakkal (of Jalandhar). Even the Vatican has not bothered to acknowledge our complaints,” Sister Anupama Kelamangalathuveli, spokeswoman for five Missionaries of Jesus nuns, told Global Sisters Report.

The sisters seek attention from the Vatican to the plight of women religious abused by clergy, with clearer protocols and more protection. For now, the five sisters are living with the victim in a convent in Kerala state, refusing orders to return to their own communities while the case is ongoing.

They are caught in a wrangle between a bishop who supports their refusal and their congregational leadership, and they endure the rancor of sisters in their community who ridicule them and discount the victim’s allegations.

The sisters rallied behind their former superior general who, on 28th June, complained to the police in Kerala that Bishop Mulakkal had sexually abused her multiple times, from 2014 to 2016. Sister Kelamangalathuveli said the victim first wrote to Church authorities in January 2017, the apostolic nuncio in India in January 2018, and then to the pope on 14th May, seeking Church action against Bishop Mulakkal.

Bishop Mulakkal has consistently denied the allegations and claimed the case was due to the nun’s personal vendetta for his initiating disciplinary action against her.

Photo: Missionaries of Jesus sisters pose for a photo in Cochin, India. They prostested the alleged rape of their former superior by a bishop.

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